Trusting God: a testimony

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

A testimony by Bruce Repei

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Introduction

Bruce Repei has made a career for the past thirty years as a head scenic artist, art director, and designer in the professional theatre business.  For the past five years, he has also had a studio on James St. N., where he produced his own artwork.  He is known and loved by many in the community for his work teaching the PMC art class for over a decade, as well as a more recent class for seniors at the YWCA.  This is his story of losing sight but finding a new depth of faith.

Backstory

I’ve been a believing Christian since the age of ten, but at some point in the past few years, I began to notice a growing sense of spiritual restlessness.  I felt like I never had the kind of spiritual life that you read and hear about.  I always felt there could be a better experience.  I wanted that closeness to God and that shower of blessings that the scriptures describe, but I always figured I was not worthy of it—or else I would have known it by now.  

A few years ago, pastor lane spoke about being “haunted by God.”  This began happening to me.  I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking someone was there.  I was never afraid even though it felt surreal or supernatural.  It was as if someone was trying to tell me something but no words were heard.  Someone was there.  It was the Holy Ghost haunting me.  

This was a good haunting.  I was quite moved by this and began to pray for something to happen that would make me a better person and Christian.  I asked myself what would I want from God as a spiritual blessing or gift if I had the chance.  I decided that my greatest spiritual weakness was a lack of courage, so that is what I prayed for.  I honestly believe that my answer came in the form of the trial I would soon go through.  I learned that when you ask God to do something you had better stand firm and be prepared.  

 

Spring 2016

In the spring of 2016, I started to notice my eyesight slipping.  It was harder to focus.  I got new glasses prescribed and by the time I picked them up they failed to work for me.  The doctor determined that I had low eye pressure.  The doctor tried some treatments, but every treatment failed.  Sometimes my vision would return, only to fail again shortly afterward.  I was coasting up and down with hopes and disappointment.  

 

Summer 2016

In the summer of 2016, Pastor Lane was teaching a series of sermons from the book of Job.  This was never a favourite story of mine because I always looked on Job as someone with special favour from God.  Each Sunday, I would take my seat in the balcony and listen to the woes of Job while at the same time in noticing that my sight was diminishing a little more each week.  

I’ve never been known to have a quick temper, but one night lying in my bed I felt a real anger at what was happening to me.  I was never a person who got angry at God, but now I was asking God, “how could you let this happen to an artist?”  I had just turned sixty-five.  I was looking forward to launching into more painting, more teaching, and a rewarding time ahead.  Instead, my retirement gift was blindness—received with some bitterness toward God.  

 

August 16, 2016

Taking what I thought was the mature approach to my anger, I decided that anger was not the right path and that it would only lead to my own misery.  As Christians, we are always taught to look for the good purpose in all things, including our troubles and trials. I struggled to see where there was any good in an artist losing his vision.  I was at a dead end and could not imagine my life without sight or the ability to do my artwork.  I was forced to challenge God.  

I prayed, “Lord I know I can’t be angry at you about this.  I don’t believe you would allow this to be cruel or to punish me.  I do believe you must have some purpose in this awful circumstances you have placed me in.  I am helpless and unable to understand any purpose for goodness here.  Show me what you want me to know."  

 

August 17, 2016

The next morning as I was checking my email, I saw a message from a man I had worked with in previous years in the theatre business.  I was a little surprised because I didn’t remember getting any messages from him before, so I was curious what he had to say.  There was no text in the email, just an image of a stone tablet with the words “Psalm 73” carved into it.  I had never known this man to talk about God or scripture, so this was a surprising message.  

At this time, my vision was poor but still good enough that I could read using a magnifying glass.  I had a Bible in my studio which Pastor Mike Mileski had given me.  It was a special edition with beautiful abstract artwork and a very easy to read text.  I read from it every day before I set to work on my painting.  

On this day, I decided to read Psalm 73, hoping to discover why my colleague had sent it to me.  I started reading about Israel and the ungodly prospering.  This didn’t seem to have anything to do with my situation.  Reading further, the Psalmist expresses frustration and admits his unworthiness to God.  I could relate to that more.  The next verse was one which I had heard and read many times before without too much notice:

Nevertheless, I am continually with thee. You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel and afterward, receive me to glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you, Lord, and there is nothing on earth that I desire more.  My heart and my flesh fail me but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  It is good for me to be near God...I will put my trust in the Lord God that I may tell of his works.

I was reading while standing at my drafting table, but when I read these words, I slumped down into a chair because I felt my knees weaken.  I was so overcome by the words I read; it was as if I had never read or heard them before.  At that moment, as I sat in my studio, it felts like someone put a cloak around me.  A wave of peace and reassurance washed over me.  I felt peace I had never known before.  This was the “peace that passes all understanding” which comes only from God.  This was the Holy Spirit answering my prayer.  Psalm 73 told me what I needed to know.  

The Lord is with me, always at my right side holding my hand.  He will guide my footsteps and prevent me from falling.  When my life on earth is over, I will stand with him in heaven because I am just as worthy in God’s sight as Job.  I have no doubt of all this because the Lord has given me the courage to believe it fully.  

After reading and taking in the words of Psalm 73, I said out loud in my studio, “What more could I possibly want?”  I re-read Psalm 73 several times right after.  I had never had a verse that I might refer to as my “life-verse.”  Now I had my own life verse because Psalm 73 changed my outlook on life forever.  

 

Fall 2016

In the days and weeks that followed, I read psalm after psalm.  I discovered that I could listen to someone read the psalms on YouTube, which was easier than struggling with my sight.  I was amazed that the theology that weaved its way through the psalms.  Several of them bolstered my faith and my reverence for this great book.  I always read the daily devotional reading and commentary by Charles Spurgeon.  His insight into the human condition combined with his knowledge of theology is remarkable.  Many days he would offer up a psalm which would prove to be exactly what I needed to have that day.  

In the year that followed, there were many efforts to fix my sight.  I underwent four surgeries and received countless injections in my eyes.  With a newfound peace and courage, I was able to go through all these ordeals knowing that the Lord was always with me.  With the help of excellent, caring doctors, I didn’t need to worry.  

 

Spring 2017

By the spring, it seemed at first that the surgeries had succeeded.  The relief was short lived.  The pressure problem had been fixed, but a new problem appeared in the form of calcium deposits on my cornea, which were clouding my vision.  I was just ready to get new glasses after waiting a year, only to find out it was not possible until the calcium was dealt with.  This involved another specialist and more delays.  I had been dealing with my life very well up until this time, but the combination of everything seemed to drag me down ‘til I felt depressed and very discouraged.  


August 17, 2017

One particularly bad day, I went to see what my friend Charles Spurgeon had to say.  I was really counting on something meaningful to help me see my way out of this depressed state.  

Instead of a psalm, this day’s reading was from John: the story of Lazarus.  “Why Lazarus?” I thought.  That didn’t seem to offer any help on this day.  Spurgeon told how Christ is telling us that our trials, troubles, and illnesses are not forever, that there is a time for these things to end.  That promise from God changed my mood from discouragement to hope and promise. I now had the promise that my long series of trouble with my sight would have an end.  That was good enough for me.  I had made it through the past year, and I knew I was a better person than before.  I don’t think the old me would have come through the year as well.  

 

The story continues

In September of this year, I had an operation to remove the calcium from my cornea.  It was successful, but the condition has quickly returned since then.  Once again, I find myself unable to get new glasses, parked on the sidelines with hazy vision.  I am disappointed, but not without hope.  I have hope because of the many prayers on my behalf and the peace and courage that get from my Saviour who holds my right hand.  

I am in awe of what God has done for me this past year.  I am in awe of how God has moved in my life since I asked him to do something for me.  I am richly blessed with a loving wife, daughters, and a family who care about and for me.  I have a church filled with caring people who have prayed for me.  I have everything I need; I know not everyone is blessed the same way.  I don’t know if I will have my sight restored to where I can read and write and create art again.  Even if I don’t, I know that God will have a plan for me and I will never be left without him.  

I once asked what the Lord wanted me to do.  I found my answer in Psalm 73, which says. “I will tell of thy works.”  This is why I am telling my story.  I have yet to meet a person who did not face some sort of trouble, trial, illness, fear, and so on.  I want people to know that you can be deeply blessed and assured by just opening your heart and asking God to do something for you.  If you read Psalm 73 and do what the psalmist says by putting your trust in the lord, your life will change more than you can imagine.  Whoever you are—rich or poor, young or old, you and I can be as richly blessed and stand as worthy as Job in God’s sight.  

Wonder and worship

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By Jesse Hill

Last week, Ami sang a very nice song in our worship service titled “Build My Life.”  Here are the words to the chorus (emphasis added):

Holy, there is no one like You  

There is none beside You  

Open up my eyes in wonder  

Show me who You are and fill me  

With Your heart and lead me 

In Your love to those around me

-”Build My Life” by Housefires

We also sang a song by Matt Redman called “Mercy” which includes the line “May I never lose the wonder, O the wonder of Your mercy.”  

I’ve been thinking lately about the idea of wonder.  More specifically, I’ve been thinking about what it means to have a sense of wonder or awe in the context of worship.  What role does wonder play in our worship?  Should true worship instill us with a sense of wonder or does wonder prompt us to worship?

It seems to me that without a sense of wonder, worship would be a purely cognitive exercise.  Wonder is one of the elements which distinguish worship from mere understanding.  Worship happens when we allow ourselves to be in awe or wonder at the things we understand about God.  Wonder is the thing that makes it possible to sing about amazing grace instead of simply saying that God is gracious. 

Many of the truths of our faith are simple but have an unfathomable depth.  For example, we know that God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love (Psalm 145:8).  We can state these things as basic descriptors of God, but we can also state these same attributes from a position of wonder.  It is one thing to know that God is compassionate, but it is another thing to have experienced his compassion and to state this from a position of awe or wonder that he could be so compassionate.  

To take another example of simple truth with great depth, consider the idea that God is holy.  Scripture describes God as being holy quite often, and today we often sing songs and pray prayers which say the same.  We know that God is holy, but there is a profound difference between knowing that God is holy and being in awe or wonder at his holiness.  Consider Isaiah’s response to God’s holiness: “Woe is me, for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.”  (Isaiah 6:5). 

It is one thing to understand something about God, and another thing altogether to consider that same thing with a sense of wonder.  I don’t believe it is possible to worship God in spirit and in truth without some sense of wonder.  

In a culture that values analytical intellect in the forms of hard rules, statistics, and empirical evidence, we are unaccustomed to applying our imagination (or, our creative intellect) in worship.  As a result, we have developed a strong orthodoxy but have somehow disconnected this from the sense of wonder that orthodoxy should instill in us.  God is himself awe-inspiring, so if we are able to understand him without a sense of awe, there must be something awry.  

How can we develop a sense of wonder?  The most obvious answer is to have an experience with God that is somehow greater than learning about him, much as Isaiah did.  This is why both of the songs I referred to above are phrased as prayers asking God to open our eyes in wonder or to keep us from losing our sense of wonder.  If you do not have a sense of wonder at who God is, a good step would be to ask him to reveal himself to you in a greater way.  However, I believe there are also some spiritual practices we can make use of to help us better respond to God’s self-revelation.  

I believe we better develop a sense of wonder whenever we apply our full self (body, intellect, and emotion) in considering and responding to who God is.  A good starting point is to apply our creative intellect by imagining the truths we know about God.  We need to apply our imagination in worship, not by daydreaming and fabricating fictions, but by trying to apply and envision what we already know about God. 

Psalm 104 is an example of what I mean.  The psalm begins by describing God in his heavenly setting, saying that he is “clothed with majesty and splendor; he wraps himself in light as if it were a robe.”  And that he “makes clouds his chariot” and “flames of fire his servants.”  

If you asked me to describe God before reading this psalm, I might have given an answer based on my understanding or my concept of God.  If you asked me again after reading the psalm, my answer would be different, because the imagery in the psalm engages my imagination, and instills me with a sense of wonder at who God is.  It isn’t so much that the psalm helps me to understand something new, but more than it helps me to imagine or envision God. By engaging my imagination, the psalm helps me to experience a sense of wonder at the truth I already know.  

The remainder of Psalm 104 is a poetic description of God’s act of creation.  The psalm personifies many elements of the earth, saying that the waters of the sea fled and hurried away when God rebuked them.  The psalm says that the sun knows when to rise and set—as though the sun had some ability for thought.  Obviously, these descriptions are not meant to be taken literally, but to help us to better imagine and wonder at God’s real act of creation and at his continued work in the natural world.  

Psalm 104 and other passages like it help us understand how we can develop a sense of wonder in worship.  I imagine this psalm might have been written as the psalmist sat in a field imagining what it must have been like when God created the world.  Or perhaps it was written on the way home from a reading of Genesis or even Job at the tabernacle.  Either way, the psalmist clearly took great care to apply imagination and creativity in considering God as Creator.  

We can do the same thing in worship.  The next time you read scripture, or sing songs in church, or pray, try to apply not only the analytic part of your intellect but also the creative part of your intellect.  Try to apply your five senses to the truth you are contemplating.  If you are singing about God as creator, try to imagine some aspect of creation: what did it look like for God to create the moon by drawing dust and rocks together in orbit around the earth?  If you are singing about the sacrifice of Jesus, try to really imagine the horror of the crucifixion with all of your senses: what did it sound like that day?  What did the wood of the cross feel like?  If you are singing about the work of the Spirit in the global church, imagine the Spirit whispering truth to many people, and that truth echoing around the world with ever-increasing volume.  Imagine, as Paul did, the spirit forming the church into the image of Christ.  Perhaps, as you engage your senses in contemplation, you will find that the rest of your being is also drawn into worship and that you begin to wonder at who God is and what he has done.  

Wonder is an essential part of worshipping God. I pray you are able to experience God in a way that invokes a sense of wonder, and that you will be able to apply your whole being in responding to him in worship.  

May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord

-Psalm 104:34

 

 

 

Looking Back: the PMC Homecoming Event

The PMC 125th Anniversary Homecoming Event (a.k.a. an old-fashioned church picnic) was a wonderful time for all involved.  There was food, music, and games for young and old.  Old friends reconnected, and new friendships were formed.  Thank God for His faithfulness over the past 125 years!  

What's your SHAPE?

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Would you like to have a better understanding of your role in the Kingdom?  Would you like to know how your gifts, experiences, and personality make you uniquely suited to serve others?  

The S.H.A.P.E. inventory is designed to help you get a well-rounded perspective on who you are and what God has called you to.  If you'd like to understand your own role or get some ideas of how you can get involved at PMC, we encourage you to download the SHAPE inventory and fill it out.  Hard copies are also available Sunday mornings at the Welcome Desk.  

When you're finished, you can keep the results to yourself if you like, but we'd love to see what you learned.  You can leave hard copies at the Welcome Desk or email info@acommunityofgrace.org.  

Click Here to download the SHAPE Inventory.  

 

The Breakfast Club

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Join us at The Breakfast Club Sunday morning in the Vine Building for interactive discussion and good food. All are welcome.

The Beatitudes - It doesn’t come through clearly in English translations, but the phrase “and he began to teach them” in the original language means that this was an intentional and formal time of teaching. Jesus is holding a class and purposefully teaching His disciples the essentials of what it means to follow Him. This is information Jesus wants us to know and put into practice as His followers so that we can experience the blessings He wants to share with us. If we fail to understand and practice what Jesus is teaching in these few verses we will be building lives on a foundation of sand rather than solid rock (Matthew 7: 24-27).

The Breakfast Club 2017-18 starting September 17 In the Vine Building, 9:15 for coffee.

Philpott Church is a community of grace, rooted together in the gospel, that exists to glorify God by making more and better disciples of Jesus Christ who are committed to the celebration of God, the cultivation of deeper faith, and the restoration of our community, our city, and the nations.  "We long to see you, so that we may be mutually encouraged by each others'  faith" Romans 1:11-12

Facilitators for the discussion:
Mick Brown, Dean Billings, Caroline Sears,
David Harvey

For further info: contact Val Harvey at 905-628-6572 or valerieharvey456@gmail.com
or Pat Major at pekmajor@gmail.com

Urban Ministry Volunteer Opportunities

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1.  “Recharge”…a Drop In center
A number of us from Philpott have been meeting almost weekly, at this collaboration between the Chaplain’s office of the Salvation Army and PMC Urban ministry.  This is a great opportunity to meet folks who spend a lot of time on the street (some are homeless) whom we bump into as we walk up the stairs to enter the church. 
Currently, we have been meeting on Fridays at 12:30pm but are looking for volunteers on other days and evenings.  If you could see yourself volunteering to meet with folks off the street for a Morning, Afternoon or Evening session (2hr) please contact Geoff Beatty.
Needed: complete puzzle sets, used guitars, picture books (travel etc.), paint or drawing supplies
2.  One-2-One English Conversation Partners (bringing Newcomers and the Philpott Community together)
You don’t have to be a teacher to get involved in this great opportunity to meet an international.
1. Join us as a conversation Volunteer: Mondays from 6:30-8pm in the Atrium
AND/OR
2.  Submit your name as a conversation partner who is ready to meet regularly during the week with one of our Newcomer friends.

3.  Furniture Distribution Ministry - Do you know someone who needs Furniture but can't afford it?  Philpott church has a container where our donated inventory includes furniture & kitchen supplies for distribution among newcomers & needy of our city. Check out the Google doc for inventory: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1XeNoOemKUBs_pf9dQ8vvMeMDg3WXfdq1UHQXEMd5jnQ/edit?usp=sharing.

For more information, contact Geoff Beatty: geoffsidy@gmail.com Cell: 289-775-1648.



Alpha Course - Ever wondered what it's all about?

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Alpha is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting. The Alpha course includes ten meals and an amazing weekend getaway that comes halfway through the 10-week course. The course meets once per week.

Alpha has become a worldwide phenomenon, now in 164 countries, where millions of people have come to explore the meaning of life. 

During each session people enjoy great food, laughter and learning in a fun and friendly atmosphere where no question about life and God is seen as too simple or too hostile. Questions like; is there a God? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?

A - Anyone interested in finding out more about the Christian faith can be a part of the Alpha experience.

L - Learning and laughter. It is possible to learn about the Christian faith and to have fun at the same time.

P - People meeting together. An opportunity to share a meal, get to know others, and to make new friends.

H - Helping one another. The small groups give you a chance to discuss issues raised in the talks.

A - Ask anything. Alpha is a place where no question is too simple or too hostile.

 

 

The PMC Podcast

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

Did you know that PMC has a podcast?  We do!  All of our Sunday morning messages are available on our website, but you can also subscribe to them as an iTunes podcast.  Click here to subscribe, or search for Philpott Church in the iTunes store.  You can also listen on Google Play.

Until now, we had only used our podcast to share Sunday morning messages.  This past Sunday's message proved too long for the time allotted, so today we've used our podcast channel to share a conversation between Lane and Jesse on the idea of Christ descended from the Apostles' Creed.  You can listen on iTunes or listen on the web

Let us know if you enjoyed hearing a non-Sunday podcast, or if there are issues you'd like for us to talk about as a future podcast episode.  

What a Beautiful Name

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

-by Jesse Hill

One of the things I’ve discovered in studying scripture is that many of my favorite passages seem to have been plagiarized.  For example, many of the Psalms seem to have been partially copied from Canaanite praise songs.  When I first learned this, I was distressed.  But when I continued my study, I found that these plagiarized Canaanite songs had been altered in key ways when they were brought into the collection of Isrealite psalms.   

Why would the Psalm writers take songs written for pagan gods and alter them to praise the true God?  

Picasso has been quoted as saying “good artists borrow, great artists steal.”  One reason for the psalmists to have appropriated the songs and hymns of their Baal worshipping neighbors is simply that they absorbed the style and lexicon of the time.  A more compelling reason might be that by reworking the pagan hymns, the psalmists identified the ways in which YHWH is different from Baal; a statement intended both for the Canaanites and for the Israelites.  

 

Our worship never happens in a vacuum.  Every time we ascribe worth to God, we do so within our own cultural context.  Our challenge, then, is to identify the idols within our own culture and to consciously change the narratives of our time to proclaim the name of the true God.  

An interesting New Testament example of this comes from Peter’s impromptu sermon to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4.  In Acts 4:12, Peter says of Jesus:

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

This phrase was probably one of the better-known phrases of Peter’s time, as it was written on Roman coins minted by Caesar Augustus (the name Augustus means “worthy of reverence and worship”).  Augustus minted coins with this phrase in order proclaim himself as the sole savior of humankind.  By quoting the phrase to describe Jesus, Peter identified Jesus as the true Savior and Son of God and Augustus as an idol and a false messiah.  

 

We recently introduced a new song at PMC; “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong United.  The lyrics of this song come in part from Peter's sermon in Acts 4.  The song proclaims the name of Jesus as beautiful, wonderful, and powerful.  The bridge of the song says that He has no rival or equal, and that His name is above all names.  

When we sing this song, we are taking up a task common to the people of God throughout history.  We are both demoting every false, would-be god, and exalting the one true God.  

 

I think of the psalmists and of Peter and I wonder, can I do what they did?  Can I name the false gods of this age and make their deceptive stories true by retelling them in a way that exalts Jesus?  

Summer Sermon Series: the Apostles' Creed

 

This Sunday we begin our summer sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed.  The creed was first developed in the late fourth century to help believers unite around core, essential aspects of Christian faith.  More than a millennium before Gutenberg’s printing press statements like the creed helped to unite Christians who might never have read scripture themselves.  Moreover, many of the statements in the creed were intended to counteract the propositions of various cults that had infiltrated Christianity at the time.  

Today, we all have access to scripture for ourselves and many of the heresies that distressed the church in those days have passed away (though other heresies, such as Gnosticism, are alive and well in different forms).  So what is the value of the Apostles’ Creed today?  

The Apostles’ Creed is worth knowing today perhaps more than ever.  In a time when our relentless individualism suggests that each person should arrive at his or her own conclusions about Scripture, the creed gives us a historically proven way to study scripture.  The creed is, in many ways, a distillation of scripture; each of the statements within the creed may not represent a particular chapter and verse, but each statement is rooted in a recurring truth within Scripture as a whole.  

Further, the creed helps us to identify the core beliefs of the Christian faith, giving all Christian denominations a common reference point.  In a world that so desperately needs the Gospel, churches of every kind need to find ways to rally together, finding unity in what is essential, and offering charity in all else; the creed helps us to identify what is essential.  

We hope you join us in studying and memorizing the creed this summer.  

Here is a musical setting which may be helpful as you memorize the creed:  

 

Schedule:

July 2: Rev. Dr. Kelvin Mutter: Introduction to the Apostles’ Creed

July 9: Rev. Michael Bowyer: "I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth."

July 16: Michael Gabizon: "I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary"

July 23: Rev. Dr. Lane Fusilier: "Suffered under Pontious Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He Des died to the dead. On the third day He rose again;"

July 30: Phil Strickland: "He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father," 

August 6: Dr. Phil Shadd: "He will come to judge the living and the dead."

August 13: Dr. Malcolm Sears: "I believe in the Holy Spirit"

August 20: Dr. Thomas Power: "The holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints"

August 27: Rev. Dr. Kelvin Mutter: "the forgiveness of sins,"

September 3: Rev. Dr. Lane Fusilier: "The resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, Amen"

 

-by Jesse Hill

One-2-One English

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Since January 2015 PMC has offered a place where Newcomers to Hamilton could not only improve their listening and speaking English skills, but make new friends to walk with them through the highs and lows of their lives.  Volunteer native English speakers are learning about the cultures represented in our group just as they are culture coaches to help our new friends navigate the waters of Canadian culture.  We have had opportunities to walk along with our Newcomer friends during their professional and spiritual journeys and this has blessed us so much.

This video is a summary of some of what we did from Sept 2016-June 19/17.  If you would like to learn how you can join in our activities, contact Geoff Beatty (Urban Ministries at PMC).  geoffsidy@gmail.com

PMC Bursaries 2017

The Philpott Memorial Church Bursary Committee aims to support students who are pursuing post-secondary studies and have financial need. We have three bursaries available to qualifying students in post-secondary studies: for Bible College, Health Sciences & the Arts. Our Bursary Committee will consider all applications and recommend that the successful candidates receive a maximum of $1,000 for a full-time student and $500 for a part-time student. Amounts may vary with the number of applications received. Bursaries will be awarded once per school year. After approval by the Board of Elders, a cheque will be made payable to the student.

To qualify, a student must be a member or adherent of PMC, and active in the life and ministry of PMC. Alternatively, any member or adherent of PMC who was active in the life and ministry of PMC before moving away to school, and who still considers PMC to be his/her home church.

Please email or mail completed application forms to our church office: talktous@getchurch.org.  If you have any questions, please contact Larry MacDonald: 905 627-1245 or email lmacdonald119@cogeco.ca.

Larry MacDonald (chairman)

Criteria for Awarding a PMC Bursary

Danby Bursary:

1.  Must be a member or adherent of PMC

2.  Must be active in the community and ministry at PMC

3. Must be needing support to attend Bible College or Seminary classes

 

Smithson Bursary:

1.  Must be a member or adherent of PMC

2.  Must be active in the community and ministry at PMC

3. Must be taking courses in health sciences.

 

Arts Bursary:

1. Must be a member or adherent of PMC

2. Must be a student who is enrolled full time in the arts:  2 or more of art, music, literature, drama, film, dance, photography.

3. Must be involved in an active way as an artist, musician, writer, actor, dancer, or photographer.

Process:

 

1.   Applicants must fulfill the above criteria

2.   An online application may be filled out at any time during the current year but by September 1. An applicant cannot apply more than once in a fiscal year.

3.  

a.   The Bursary Committee will review the applicants for all bursaries and approve a list of recipients by September 30.

b.   The list of the proposed bursary recipients will be given to the Elders Board for their approval at the October Board Meeting. 

c. 

i.     Danby & Smithson Bursaries: The Capital fund treasurer will inform the Bursary Committee how much money is available from the Bursary investments to be paid out to the bursary applicants.  The amount available for each bursary will be divided amongst the applicants for that bursary, at the discretion of the Bursary Committee.

  ii.    Arts Bursary: $500 a year will be available to one recipient per year until the overall fund is depleted.

4.     

a.   The Elders Board will review the applicants at the October Board Meeting.

b.   A list of recipients will be approved.

c.   The Elders board will provide a list of recipients to The Capital Fund Treasurer who will do the appropriate bookkeeping, process the cheque for each recipient and mail it to them by November 1.

Online Bursary Applications

 

 

Freezer Meals Ministry

We are launching a formalized meals ministry to provide practical care to our community members who have experienced a birth, adoption, loss of a loved one, or surgery/extended illness.

If you are interested in demonstrating care by providing a meal, please contact Erin Fuller at 289-689-5155 or erin.e.fuller@gmail.com. We are looking for volunteers to make freezer meals and bring them to the church and/or deliver freezer meals.

A Prayer on Fasting

O God, during this season of Lent you call me:

to fast from discontent and to feast on gratitude;

to fast from anger and to feast on patience;

to fast from bitterness and to feast on forgiveness;

to fast from self-concern and to feast on compassion.

 

O God, during this season of Lent you call me:

to fast from discouragement and to feast on hope;

to fast from laziness and to feast on commitment;

to fast from complaining and to feast on acceptance; 

to fast from lust and to feast on respect.

 

O God, during this season of Lent you call me:

to fast from prejudice and to feast on understanding;

to fast from resentment and to feast on reconciliation;

to fast from lies and to feast on the truth;

to fast from wasted time and to feast on honest work.

 

O God, during this season of Lent you call me:

to fast from grimness and to feast on joy;

to fast from suspicion and to feast on trust;

to fast from idle talk and to feast on prayer and silence;

to fast from guilt and to feast on the mercy of God.

 

May almighty God have mercy on me,

forgive me my sins and bring me to everlasting life.

Amen.

Asking Questions in Prayer

"The Conversion of St. Augustine" by Fra Angelico

"The Conversion of St. Augustine" by Fra Angelico

-by Jesse Hill

In last week’s sermon on the vice of sloth, I mentioned that one of the symptoms of sloth is that prayer becomes a difficult, obligatory act.  When we are slothful (that is, when we are apathetic towards the transforming work of the Holy Spirit) we avoid encountering God in prayer out of fear that we might have to change in some way.  As a result, our prayer time becomes a chore—a time to dispassionately recite a list of requests and minor concerns before we close the conversation off with a hurried “amen.”  

Prayer is meant to be a continuous dialogue with the Living God, enabled by His Spirit living within us.  This is why Paul is able to say that we should “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  When we are afflicted with sloth, prayer becomes an occasional chore, rather than a way of living in constant communion with God.  In my sermon, I mentioned that the practice of Lectio Divina would be one way to move towards a more biblical practice of prayer.  

The person afflicted with sloth might also consider deliberately asking more questions in prayer.  Because sloth causes us to pray hurriedly and only in monologue rather than dialogue, we can work against sloth by asking questions of God and then leaving room for Him to respond to us.  

 

Consider Augustine’s famous prayer:

How can I, who am [a created thing] ask you to come into me, when I would not exist at all unless you were already in me? Not yet am I in hell, after all but even if I were, you would be there too; for if I descend into the underworld, you are there. No, my God, I would not exist, I would not be at all, if you were not in me. Or should I say, rather, that I should not exist if I were not in you, from whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things? Yes, Lord, that is the truth, that is indeed the truth. To what place can I invite you, then, since I am in you? Or where could you come from, in order to come into me? To what place outside heaven and earth could I travel, so that my God could come to me there, the God who said, I fill heaven and earth?

 

Augustine echoes King David’s question of God: “Where could I go to flee from Your presence?…If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.” (Psalm 139).  He also echoes King Solomon’s question, “Will God live on earth?” (1 Kings 8:27).  By asking questions of God, Augustine participates in the the thoroughly Biblical practice of asking questions in order to allow room for God to speak.  

Augustine, David, and Solomon all asked questions of God in prayer because they believed that prayer is a dialogue with God, a two-way conversation in which we not only share our concerns but encounter the Living God in a way that leaves us fundamentally changed.

For person long afflicted with sloth, it seems that God is always distant, and thus asking a question in prayer is daunting because the slothful cancer within says that God is too far away to answer.  The slothful person not only fears encountering God—he or she is also afraid that if they ask, God will not respond at all.  The fear is that we might ask, and hearing no answer, discover that our faith is a sham.  

The solution to this is to not shrink back from seeking God.  Scripture tells us that those who seek God will find Him.  If we believe scripture, then we believe that asking questions of God will result in an encounter with Him.  

The person sick to death from sloth should begin by asking where God is.  Is God far away?  Is He near?  Veterans of faith know the “right” answers to these questions, yet our prayers sometimes mask a fear that God is too far away to respond.  Rather than continuing to mask our doubts, we should bring them to God.  We should pray like David, who asked, “Lord, why do you stand so far away?  Why do you hide in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10) This is a prayer that takes real faith that God will listen, rather than letting our words fall to the ground.  

 

Sufjan Stevens wrote a beautiful, David-like song asking these same questions of the Lord:  


 

Here is the full text of Augustine’s prayer:  

 

Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise; your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning. And so we men, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you – we also carry our mortality about with us, carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud. You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.

Grant me to know and understand, Lord, which comes first. To call upon you or to praise you? To know you or to call upon you? Must we know you before we can call upon you? Anyone who invokes what is still unknown may be making a mistake. Or should you be invoked first, so that we may then come to know you? But how can people call upon someone in whom they do not yet believe? And how can they believe without a preacher?

But scripture tells us that those who seek the Lord will praise him, for as they seek they find him, and on finding him they will praise him. Let me seek you then, Lord, even while I am calling upon you, and call upon you even as I believe in you; for to us you have indeed been preached. My faith calls upon you, Lord, this faith which is your gift to me, which you have breathed into me through the humanity of your Son and the ministry of your preacher.

How shall I call upon my God, my God and my Lord, when by the very act of calling upon him I would be calling him into myself? Is there any place within me into which my God might come? How should the God who made heaven and earth come into me? Is there any room in me for you, Lord, my God? Even heaven and earth, which you have made and in which you have made me – can even they contain you? Since nothing that exists would exist without you, does it follow that whatever exists does in some way contain you?

But if this is so, how can I, who am one of these existing things, ask you to come into me, when I would not exist at all unless you were already in me? Not yet am I in hell, after all but even if I were, you would be there too; for if I descend into the underworld, you are there. No, my God, I would not exist, I would not be at all, if you were not in me. Or should I say, rather, that I should not exist if I were not in you, from whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things? Yes, Lord, that is the truth, that is indeed the truth. To what place can I invite you, then, since I am in you? Or where could you come from, in order to come into me? To what place outside heaven and earth could I travel, so that my God could come to me there, the God who said, I fill heaven and earth?

Who will grant it to me to find peace in you? Who will grant me this grace, that you should come into my heart and inebriate it, enabling me to forget the evils that beset me and embrace you, my only good? What are you to me? Have mercy on me, so that I may tell. What indeed am I to you, that you should command me to love you, and grow angry with me if I do not, and threaten me with enormous woes? Is not the failure to love you woe enough in itself?

Alas for me! Through your own merciful dealings with me, O Lord my God, tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul, I am your salvation. Say it so that I can hear it. My heart is listening, Lord; open the ears of my heart and say to my soul, I am your salvation. Let me run towards this voice and seize hold of you. Do not hide your face from me: let me die so that I may see it, for not to see it would be death to me indeed.

From St. Augustine’s Confessions (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5)

Easter for Families

 

Easter is a time when we can focus on key aspects of the Biblical story about Christ with our children.  From Palm Sunday, through Good Friday and on to Easter Sunday, we find out how God put into action his glorious plan of redemption!  Use this time to prepare your child’s heart to respond to God over the Easter season. 

How can you do this?

At Philpott Memorial Church we want to equip you for this task.  Check out our Easter for Families handout and try some of the things suggested:

  • Learn an Easter hymn with your children. 
  • Listen to, watch and sing the Easter story with our suggested links.
  • Spend time to be sad on Good Friday.  We have suggested some things to do.
  • Read the Biblical stories covering Palm Sunday through to the Resurrection. 

And don’t forget to make time for corporate worship at Good Friday and Easter Sunday services.

Jan Mutter

Family Life Pastor

Why celebrate Lent?

I’m really looking forward to Lent, beginning this week with Ash Wednesday.  More and more, evangelical churches are observing Lent and other dates in the Christian calendar. These can be wonderful seasons of concentrated prayer and reflection. Many people find that these times help them to reflect on the life of Jesus and to respond in renewed ways to his love and sacrifice. Lent is a time of repentance and cleansing, and a reminder that we are “dust” and that our only hope is in the resurrection of Jesus.  Fasting, prayer and giving are three of the traditional practices associated with Lent.  Whatever we may choose to do for Lent, I pray that it will clear away the debris and help us to hear from God in needed ways. I pray that it will make us more available to God, more able to hear His voice, and more willing to respond in the ways He leads.

 - Val Harvey

 

A Meditation on Psalm 24

Psalm 24
The King of Glory
The earth and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants,
belong to the Lord;
for He laid its foundation on the seas
and established it on the rivers.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in His holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not set his mind on what is false,
and who has not sworn
deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord,
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek Him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Selah
Lift up your heads, you gates!
Rise up, ancient doors!
Then the King of glory will come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates!
Rise up, ancient doors!
Then the King of glory will come in.
Who is He, this King of glory?
The Lord of Hosts,
He is the King of glory. 
Selah

Reading this passage, I've often been struck by how hopeless it can seem.  

The mountain of God in the psalm is a stand-in for heaven.  The people of Israel often met with God at particular mountains, (e.g. Moses at mount Sinai) which were stand-ins for the actual Holy place, which is heaven.  God does not really dwell on a mountain, but He chose to locate His earthly presence there so that people could approach Him.  

The question David asks here is “who can approach God’s holy place?”  Then he lays out some qualifiers: the one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not lied.  The troubling thing is, we know from both the old and new testaments that none of us have clean hands and a pure heart.  None of us meet the standards David sets for approaching God's presence.  

What’s perhaps even worse, David says that he is describing the generation of people who seek God’s face.  Another of David’s psalms, psalm 53, says that God searched the earth for a person who seeks Him, and found no one.  Paul echoes this psalm in the book of Romans, where he says that no one is righteous, no one is pure, and no one seeks God (Romans 3).  

So who can ascend the hill of the Lord?  Only one man: Jesus!

Jesus made a way for us to enter God’s presence.  The book of Hebrews tells us that not only has Jesus made a way for us to approach God in His holy place, but that the mountain we approach is not even the same mountain that the people of ancient Israel approached.  The writer of Hebrews says that we have not come to a mountain of smoke and fire, but instead we have come to the city of God (Hebrews 12).

So the answer to the “who” in David's question is actually Jesus and all those He has made righteous.  

I’m of the persuasion that David had a unique insight that often led him to think in a messianic way.  Many of his psalms prophecy Jesus in some way, and I think this one does, too.  

See in the last section, the king of Glory.  David anticipated that even though we are unable to approach God, that God would invade our lives.  "Lift up your heads you gates, rise up, ancient doors!"  We were unable to approach God on our own, but God has come to us in strength. 

So, we whose lives have been invaded by the everlasting God, the God of heaven’s armies, are the generation who can seek God’s face, because of Jesus.  Now, we look at the world around us, and we see there are many gates which are still shut up to the King of Glory.  The work is not done.  The world has not yet recognized its King of Glory.  We look around us and we see the injustice in the world, we see sadness and suffering, we see that the world has not come in line with what God calls good.  So, let’s join David in saying “open up you ancient gates, that the King of Glory may enter!”

-by Jesse Hill